2011 NFL Draft News: Hawaii Producing Some of Draft’s Top Gems


After seeing some of the reports of the Hawaii Warriors’ pro day, I simply had to take a closer look. We all know about Greg Salas, the phenomenal wide receiver who had an outstanding career at Hawaii. But what about the others? You all know by now that running back Alex Green is one of my favorite sleeper prospects at tailback in this year’s draft, but those were really the only two prospects that I had my eyes on before these pro day results came out.

Now, you can add two more late-round names to the list of Hawaii football players who deserve to be drafted:  Safety Mana Silva and wide receiver Kealoha Pilares. Silva and Pilares were both extremely productive players for the Warriors who also had phenomenal numbers at the Hawaii pro day.

Silva (43) measured in at about 6’1″ 206 pounds, and ran a 4.43 40 yard dash and recorded a 42-inch vertical leap. Not only that, but Silva reportedly also turned in a very impressive workout for the scouts and coaches in attendance, and upon further research, it doesn’t appear as though he is the kind of guy who is only a workout warrior (no pun intended)–he has the production to back it up.

A former transfer from Oregon State, Silva recorded 145 tackles over the last two years playing safety for Hawaii, and had six interceptions his junior year, not to be overshadowed by the eight picks he had as a senior. 145 tackles and 14 interceptions over the last two seasons, and after the stellar workout he turned in at the pro day, NFL scouts are going to have to go back to the Hawaii film and check this guy out.

Upon my own personal review, it’s definitely hard to spot Silva in the game action before the plays because he sets up so far down the field. He is clearly the center fielder for the Warriors, but he is always in your frame at the end of the play. On multiple occasions against Nevada, you can see his excellent instincts on display. Silva has the game-sealing interception in that game along with a couple of noteworthy big hits on Wolfpack players.

Interesting to note that four of Silva’s interceptions this past year came against some of Hawaii’s top competition (Kaepernick, Kellen Moore, Nathan Enderle).

On the other side of the ball, one player you might hear about on the third day of the draft is wide receiver Kealoha Pilares (very tough to type). Pilares is one of those players who won’t jump out at you right away, but after you watch a few of Hawaii’s games, you will know exactly who he is. Playing alongside Greg Salas is obviously a big help, and Hawaii has another guy (81, Pollard) who makes some big plays, but consistently throughout the games it’s no. 21 making the big play for Hawaii.

At 5’10” 200 pounds, Pilares is surprisingly thick and well-built for his height. Combine that with excellent speed (4.45 40) as well as a 40.5″ vertical leap, and you have a guy who has the makings of a dominant slot receiver at the NFL level.

In his senior season, Pilares caught 88 passes for 1,306 yards and 15 touchdowns. His best game came in the first game of the season against USC, where he was making big plays left and right, catching five passes–three for touchdowns–and averaging 35.2 yards per reception. Like all Hawaii receivers, Pilares is going to need refinement in his route running skills and capabilities against press-man coverage, but he should be able to effectively create openings for himself in the middle of the field and in the short-area passing game, and he should also be able to be effective in the screen game.

Pilares displays excellent ability to run after the catch, and track the ball down the field. Six times last season he had over 100 yards receiving, and four times he was over 150 yards. His numbers are certainly there, and I think he can certainly transition to the NFL as a day three pick, and possibly crack the opening day roster of whatever team takes a chance on him. His numbers from the pro day are especially encouraging because Pilares tore his PCL in Hawaii’s bowl game.

We all know about Alex Green by now, the big, speedy back from Hawaii’s typically dominant passing offense. Reports indicate that Green showed excellent ability in the passing drills run at his pro day, and showed superb explosiveness as well.

Green is a very underrated prospect who could ascend to the third or fourth round. He’s not as powerful as you would think for his size, but he is elusive in the open field, has excellent straight line speed, and is at his best while working with the ball in space. He should get drafted by a team that utilizes their running backs in the passing game a lot, and it’s no coincidence that some of his private workouts/visits will happen in Philadelphia, Tennessee, and St. Louis–all teams that utilize their runners heavily in the passing game.

Staying on the offensive side of the ball, let’s take a look at Greg Salas, Hawaii’s superstar wide receiver prospect and a guy I think will be extremely under-drafted.

Salas checked in to the Hawaii pro day at 6’2″ 215 pounds, ran a 4.53 at the scouting combine (which he stood on) and reportedly looked very good in drills at the pro day. Per reports, scouts raved about his route running skills as well as consistent hands.

This is also something that you will see consistently on tape. Salas is one of the best receivers in the country, and has excellent size to go along with good speed and great hands, but that’s not the best part about his game. In addition to catching pretty much everything thrown his way, Salas isn’t afraid to use his big frame to his advantage. He seeks out contact down the field, he is able to make a significant impact in downfield blocking, and he does all of the little things well.

I commented that he could potentially receive a first round grade, but that would be a little knee-jerk. Salas is a sound second round prospect who will be an absolute steal for some team. He will work out of the slot initially for a team like Green Bay, New England, or Kansas City and make a significant early impact. He is a very polished player with great body control and field awareness. He knows how to use his big body, and he makes plays downfield on a consistent basis.

In my opinion, Salas should easily be a second round pick and will make a significant impact in his first season as a professional.

Hawaii is putting out four legitimate NFL talents this year, and I am most excited to see where they all wind up.

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